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City of Houston, Its Development and Evolution

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    An act to incorporate the City of Houston and grant a new charter to the said City of Houston

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    An Ordinance providing for an appropriation to a library to be established and maintained in the City of Houston

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    Stock Certificate for the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railway Company

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    Letter from A. Brandt to J. G. Baldwin, February 16, 1895

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    Motion by W. J. Kohlhauff

Long before Houston was the fourth-largest city in the United States and referred to as the Energy Capital of the World, up until the twentieth century, it was simply called the Magnolia City for its natural magnolia groves found flourishing in east Houston. Although it was a simpler time, Houston was still a city on the move beginning to transform itself into the metropolis we know today, and many historical documents illustrate this shift as the City of Houston began to initiate efforts to expand commerce and transportation networks.

A selection of 247 items, including drafts and published versions of Houston’s charters and codes of ordinance are included. These documents from 1847 to 1897 were the founding documents establishing Houston as a municipality along with enacted laws that would govern the city at this time. Many of the documents are from the Reconstruction period in Houston after the Civil War between 1865 and 1877. During this period, Houston became a global hub of commerce through its shipping port, initially transporting cotton and lumber, and later oil. Railroads were also built to connect the Port of Houston with rail lines to transport goods and resources to and from the Port of Houston to all parts of the country.

Also included are documents from the Engineer’s Office and Streets and Bridges department concerning the city’s infrastructure, and letters and memos from city council members, mayors, and aldermen discussing policy and legislation. Other noteworthy items include payrolls and other documents relating to the activities of the Houston Police, Fire Department, and Public Schools that provide emergency and educational services to the citizens of the community.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the George Fuermann “Texas and Houston” Collection.

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